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5 Critical HR Data Points for Better Decision-Making During the COVID-19 Crisis

The coronavirus pandemic that is currently taking an enormous toll on the health and well-being of people around the world, is also turning the business world upside down. Some businesses have had to shut down completely as owners, staff and management comply with stay-at-home orders, while others have transitioned to working remotely.

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As companies adjust to this new normal, they are faced with difficult decisions regarding their workforce, employee management and overall business strategies. HR data and analytics are a necessary tool during this time to ensure leaders can predict trends and make informed decisions when strategizing for an uncertain future.

Here are the top HR data points worth tracking to ensure informed decision making during COVID-19:

1- Employee classification:
Faced with locations closing for an unknown period of time, business leaders are forced to decide quickly which employees are essential to continue operations and how many team members must be furloughed temporarily or for an extended period of time. Tracking and leveraging HR data can help a company quickly classify employees and model various scenarios to determine cost savings. Companies that have all employee data they need on a single platform (rather than in silos) will be in a better position to rapidly classify employees and make decisions about layoffs, economic aid applications, benefits contributions and bottom-line impact. The ability to act decisively and communicate transparently with employees will make a critical difference on outcomes.

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2- Roles and capabilities:
To ensure employee safety and business continuity, companies need organizational design data to determine where employees are and understand their roles within the operation. That’s essential information for leaders who are making decisions about which roles can be performed at home vs. what positions require onsite access.

In a situation like a global pandemic, geographic data on employees is also critical for leaders who are making decisions, particularly for companies with regional and global operations. The timeline of the current pandemic varies according to when the outbreak first occurred in a region and whether the infection rate and government measures to control it have been effective.

3- Budget impact:
HR analytics and the ability to use data to model various scenarios is also crucial information for decision making on budgets. Whether the workforce is being ramped up in response to increased demand or idled due to stay-at-home orders, leaders need accurate information about how much money is involved in every option under consideration.

Salary, benefits and cost data will play an important role in those decisions, but so will information on talent and productivity. For example, leaders who need to cut costs by 30% require data to make reductions judiciously so they can keep their essential employees and best producers on board. When HR can provide that information quickly, it results in better and strategic decision making.

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4- Employee well-being:
In a fast-moving pandemic where age and underlying health conditions are a factor in survival rates, analytics about employee demographics are important. HR teams will also need to consider employees’ family situations. Millions of parents are suddenly working from home and overseeing homeschooling or caring for ill family members.

Depending on how the workforce is affected and a company’s productivity needs, the business might offer assistance to workers who are adapting to a work-at-home environment. Communication from HR about available support may be helpful for employees who are dealing with illness or grief issues in the wake of the pandemic, and the information gleaned from data is necessary for compassionate, personalized outreach.

5- Staffing levels:
Business transformation requires insight into where the company stands at present, what it might look like during a transition and what the desired end state would accomplish. HR analytics is a key component of transformative decisions like downsizing the workforce or adding a significant number of new workers to handle increased demand.

Leaders who have accurate and relevant HR analytics are in a better position to make the right decisions, whether the desired end state is keeping the company afloat until the COVID-19 crisis ends or expanding operations in response to heavier demand and then easing back into a more normal state once things have passed.

Many companies that were engaged in long-term planning just a couple of months ago are in survival mode today. Organizations that were accustomed to stable demand and uninterrupted supply chains in February are frantically adding staff and seeking new partners now. The COVID-19 crisis has upended business operations worldwide, and when it ends, companies will be dealing with the fallout from that.

In every facet of business operation, HR analytics has a role to play, whether in minimizing losses or maximizing opportunities. That’s true in a world economy that’s been transformed by a pandemic, but it’s true under normal business conditions too. With easily accessible accurate HR analytics, company leaders can make better, faster decisions during a crisis and any other time.

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